Articles, Blog

Microplastic Contamination and Seafood Safety

August 15, 2019

“Microplastic Contamination
and Seafood Safety” In 1869, a patent was taken out for a
new substance to replace elephant ivory in the production of billiard balls, and
the plastics industry was born. Ironically, what started out as a
conservation-minded measure has turned into an
environmental problem. Hundreds of thousands of tons of
trillions of tiny plastic particles are now floating on the
surface of the sea. This is how it works, either from
plastic objects like water bottles that get worn down into
tinier and tinier pieces, or plastic microbeads flowing down
into the sewers from our sinks. Plastic microbeads are often used as
a scrubbing agent in personal care and cosmetic products, such as facial
cleansers, shower gels, and toothpaste, and up to 94,000 microbeads could go
down the drain in a single wash. Then when you trawl the oceans
you can find the same beads you find in the facial scrubs. Billions are emitted into aquatic
habitats every day in the United States. Laid end to end, the United States
emits enough microbeads to wrap around the planet
more than seven times. The reason this may be a problem is
that the plastic then accumulates toxic compounds from the water
and then shuttles them, along with any chemicals originally in
the plastic, into marine organisms, concentrating up the food chain and
eventually ending up on our plates. The potential hazardous effects on
humans then evidently include “alterations in chromosomes which lead to infertility, obesity, and cancer.” Wait, let’s take a step back,
and review the evidence. Plastic gets into the oceans, but
does it even get into the fish? Yes, microplastics have been shown to be
ingested by fish and other seafood. But are we then actually
eating plastic-ingesting fish? Yes, we are eating
plastic-ingesting fish. But don’t we just poop the plastic out? Small enough microparticles may
actually be able to get absorbed through the intestinal wall
and into our bloodstream. This “uptake of ingested microparticles
into small intestinal tissues and on to secondary organs has moved
from being an anecdotal phenomenon to a recognized and quantifiable process.” But that’s in rodents. Just because it’s been demonstrated
across a variety of lab animals, you don’t know if it happens in people…
until you put it to the test. The closest we have is working with
human placentas after childbirth, and what they found is that plastic
microparticles could indeed cross the placental barrier from
the maternal blood stream; so, if it could get into a
pregnant woman’s circulation it might get into her
baby’s circulation as well. The reason this is
concerning is that plastic debris can be a source of toxic chemicals, both chemical additives
in the plastic itself, and then pollutants the plastic sucks up from the water that can then
be later released into the body. BPA is one of the chemical additives that
can originate from the plastic itself. Given that BPA concentrations have
been measured in plastic debris, microplastics may be a major
source of BPA in seafood, but no one’s really looked into it…
until now— BPA levels in the edible parts of seafood. Yes, fish and seafood present one of
the highest BPA contamination levels, but is that just because
they were looking at canned fish products like
tuna and sardines? Manufacturers may use BPA in the
lining of food cans directly. Yes, BPA may also leach
from the plastic in the oceans, causing a direct contamination of fish- in fact some argue that this BPA
environmental contamination in fish could be worse than the BPA from
the cans themselves, but you don’t know… until you put it to the test. Here are the BPA levels
found in canned seafood. You can see the highest levels were found in like tuna, cockles,
sardines, and blue crab but these were all canned; so you
don’t know how much is from the can versus the seafood itself, until
you look at non-canned seafood, and sometimes found even
higher levels in some fresh mollusks, clams, flounder, and cod. That’s not good, since plastics
chemicals such as BPA are known endocrine disruptors,
meaning known hormone disrupters. And besides that, fat-soluble pollutants
from the seawater can glom on to the microplastic surfaces and
potentially present additional risk, which we’ll cover next.


  • Reply AlboPepper - Drought Proof Urban Gardening April 24, 2019 at 12:11 pm

    Just when people thought they were breaking free from the plague of BPA… Another reason to ditch seafood altogether and stick with plants!!! Thanks again Dr. Greger! 😀

  • Reply Meike April 24, 2019 at 12:17 pm

    Could you do a video about vegan keto diet and weight loss? 😊

  • Reply Karla Dawn Jones April 24, 2019 at 12:20 pm

    Another reason to not eat fish. And ANOTHER reason to use “natural” bath and body products.

  • Reply Alberto Scatto April 24, 2019 at 12:20 pm

    This is absurd we are killing everything and everyone who has a life and smashing it in every possible way, we need to wake up before the ecological collapse.
    Join Extinction Rebellion
    Go Vegan

  • Reply jib the world April 24, 2019 at 12:20 pm

    another reason to eat plants, yes, but we should also ban plastics, please!

  • Reply Allostasis April 24, 2019 at 12:21 pm

    This goes for sea salt too.

  • Reply María J. Machado April 24, 2019 at 12:23 pm

    Suma y sigue….

  • Reply Celina K April 24, 2019 at 12:24 pm

    Why don't they just use a sugar scrub? ?

    4:24 endocrine

  • Reply philos4r April 24, 2019 at 12:31 pm

    They chose plastic over Hemp for reason to conquer the planet.

  • Reply michael seth April 24, 2019 at 12:32 pm

    Another great job by the doctor. Thanks

  • Reply hervva April 24, 2019 at 12:38 pm

    What about seaweed that is recomended in how not to die reciepies?

  • Reply Steven Priest April 24, 2019 at 12:41 pm

    Scrub your face with plastic microbeads? Need to upgrade to an oatmeal scrub instead.

  • Reply Plant Maven April 24, 2019 at 12:45 pm

    One of the many symptoms of unmitigated reproduction of humans. It can’t end well.

  • Reply lightdark00 April 24, 2019 at 12:50 pm

    Micro-plastics are in sea salt too! 😱

  • Reply Barrak Sadeq April 24, 2019 at 12:52 pm

    Where's all the Ex vegan claiming fish is healthy! 😂😂

  • Reply Ethel Chip April 24, 2019 at 12:58 pm

    Dr Greger you are an amazing person and your work saves lives. Thank you so much for the information!!! I hope we invent some way to clean up the plastic from the ocean in the future.

  • Reply Stay Extra Virgin - Health, Nutrition & Lifestyle April 24, 2019 at 1:01 pm

    Thank you for all your videos, they are very insightful and the best place for truth.
    I need answers to a few questions which I will list below, hope you reply

    Can we survive long term on this diet and will we get all the nutrients?
    Will this diet cause any issue with Blood Sugar, Insulin and Glycation?
    How many meals and calories should we have when starting out?
    Which foods are highest in B12, DHA EPA Omega 3s, K2, CLA and Carnosine?

    Many Thanks
    sorry for so many questions

  • Reply Chris Namaste April 24, 2019 at 1:03 pm

    Nearly 50 years ago…

  • Reply Chris Namaste April 24, 2019 at 1:05 pm

    We need more 5 minute annihilation on various stupid public policy positions from Dr Greger.

  • Reply Chris Namaste April 24, 2019 at 1:07 pm

    Synthetic clothes also contribute to this synthetic micro particle pollution. Please give us natural fiber swag please.

  • Reply SuperVeganWhat April 24, 2019 at 1:08 pm

    For anyone playing the drinking game that's 4 drinks for 4 catch phrases. Really thought he was going to say " which we will cover now" at the end

  • Reply April 24, 2019 at 1:11 pm

    For more on BPA, check out the playlist: -NF Team

  • Reply Sean Freeman April 24, 2019 at 1:19 pm

    This video needs millions of views. Polluted ocean is the biggest problem we need to think about. But the leaders don't give a fuck. It's really sad.

  • Reply Crepito April 24, 2019 at 1:26 pm

    It’s everywhere, not just the sea. You drink it too, even breath it. This story is just twisted for your agenda.

  • Reply Don Jabra April 24, 2019 at 1:36 pm


  • Reply Hulagu Kahn April 24, 2019 at 1:45 pm

    How do I get my cholesterol from plant sources?

  • Reply Lil Vegan April 24, 2019 at 1:45 pm

    I had no idea cans were sometimes lined with BPA…. yikes

  • Reply Blacktician April 24, 2019 at 1:53 pm

    Such quality content

  • Reply Lichtblick April 24, 2019 at 2:09 pm

    Plastic Planet

  • Reply Catalina Navarro April 24, 2019 at 2:21 pm

    Great work as always!

  • Reply Sanne April 24, 2019 at 2:56 pm

    Plastic makes me so sad.. I wish it was banned.

  • Reply LIFTING THE VEIL April 24, 2019 at 3:34 pm

    damn i was looking for high quality bioaccumulation graphics like the one used in this video, for my presentation on biomagnification of POPs up the foodchain collab video that i did with Mic The Vegan. it was epic and provides a much needed additional context to this amazing video by dr greger.

  • Reply LIFTING THE VEIL April 24, 2019 at 3:36 pm

    from the literature on diabetes: "Over 93% of total human intake of Persistant Organic Pollutants comes primarily from animal foods" – Endocrine Toxicology, Population Gendercide and Animal Foods

  • Reply justgivemethetruth April 24, 2019 at 3:41 pm

    How is it that these plastic micro-beads are still being made? Grrrrrrrr!!!!

  • Reply ranradd April 24, 2019 at 3:43 pm

    Apparently George Carlin was right about plastics. Nature had humans invent plastics as a way to get rid of humans.

  • Reply Iron Vegan April 24, 2019 at 4:02 pm

    Great presentation MIchael – I watched a movie called "A Plastic Ocean" when it was first released in 2016, and it detailed much of what you said here, as well as graphically showing fish that had even larger plastic debris in their stomachs and intestines (they had died from so much plastic in them that they could no longer digest actual food). This is critical news that everyone who eats fish should know if they are interested in their health and longevity. Thanks so much for once again sharing something of immense importance to humans! See ya' …

  • Reply Drew Henrichs April 24, 2019 at 4:12 pm

    How encouraged/worried should American fish eaters be? The ppm of BPA was pretty low on the non-canned fish for America.

  • Reply Char Covelesky April 24, 2019 at 4:13 pm

    As long as we keep using plastic it will keep polluting. We like the convenience but not the aftermath. Don't buy it, don't use it, we're not powerless unless we do nothing.

  • Reply White Kita April 24, 2019 at 4:55 pm

    every time someone tells me they eating fish because they think its "healthier" then other rotten animal body parts I always see little plastic bottles swimming trough there blood stream creating new cancer cells all over the place…..uukk!

  • Reply Eelke Aptroot April 24, 2019 at 4:57 pm

    I´ve heard some claim seafood is a turn-on for them…

  • Reply Whatsthis1do April 24, 2019 at 5:00 pm

    Can't use animals. Must become Vegan. Can't use plastics. Must use animals… oh man this is hard. Screw it I'm bringing back clogs!

  • Reply LIFTING THE VEIL April 24, 2019 at 5:47 pm

    So glad i gave up my “deficient vegan diet” to drink piss and eat fish instead! 😂🤣🥴🤦‍♂️🙄☠️

  • Reply Tanucci April 24, 2019 at 6:17 pm

    Is it true plastics used to be made from Hemp? How did Henry Ford make some car parts using hemp? Seems we should go back to using this to make plastics (and textiles) as I hear it biodegrades very efficiently.

  • Reply Johnny Hoffman April 24, 2019 at 7:22 pm

    The government needs to fund algae based DHA/EPA supplements in fortified foods. Until then we could all take algae supplements.

  • Reply Parminder Grewal April 24, 2019 at 8:09 pm

    Dr Greger, please eat some fish. You are dying of malnutrition. Look in the mirror.

  • Reply Peter Rabitt April 24, 2019 at 8:19 pm

    You need to do a video about plastic residues in sea salt.

  • Reply Shari T April 24, 2019 at 9:30 pm

    Scary stuff! The case for a plant based diet keeps getting stronger. Thanks for doing the research and posting!

  • Reply Nicky J April 24, 2019 at 9:48 pm

    OMG what the hell have we done to the environment! I knew it was bad, but I didn't realise it was this bad. Seems like advances in technology are a double edged sword. 😞

  • Reply Ichigo Kurosaki April 24, 2019 at 9:59 pm

    You know we have found this wonderful things that made our lifes so much easier. But we never bothered to think of a way to actually take of our waste. I wish someone finds a neat solution to this that does not lead to yet another problem.

  • Reply Abc 123 April 24, 2019 at 11:36 pm

    What about plastic ending up on important sea plants (sources of iodine), kelp/ dulse/ etc

  • Reply Person McPerson April 25, 2019 at 12:33 am

    Wow that was an awesome break down of a lot of data, and I was wondering about the potential research into whether this is affecting the next generation with autism diagnosis…microplastics crossing the placenta! Disrupting hormones and more during potential fetal development is very scary. I encourage everyone to watch A Plastic Ocean on Netflix and find ways to reduce your use of plastics and buying of anything wrapped in plastic! #SaveThePlanet #BeVegan #ZeroWaste

  • Reply Joshu April 25, 2019 at 2:23 am

    Keep up the videos👍💯

  • Reply deavman April 25, 2019 at 9:39 am

    Not related to the subject in the video : There is new research showing that for followers of a vegan diet, nuts might not be a good idea since it shows immediate stiffening of the arteries. Can it be addressed?

  • Reply SaleXchannel April 25, 2019 at 7:46 pm

    I sea the problem

  • Reply livingthedream April 25, 2019 at 8:52 pm

    But Sushi

  • Reply Daniel Dias April 27, 2019 at 6:55 am

    how about seaweed?

  • Reply lordoftheflings July 9, 2019 at 10:47 pm

    Dammit Dr. Gregor, can't you just talk like a normal human being? What with the dramatic pauses and emphasis, etc. Just talk normal.

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